A Select Annotated Bibliography -- By: Tom Schwanda
RAR 13:3 (Summer 2004) p. 167
A Select Annotated Bibliography
Spiritual formation has become a very popular topic today. That is both encouraging and challenging. Unfortunately the North American church has a tendency to look for the newest fad only to discard it and search for the next appealing solution or “program” that appears on the horizon. However, spiritual formation is not new. This biblical emphasis is synonymous with sanctification, walking with God, growing in grace or godliness, or spiritual maturity. Since spiritual formation has become so popular and secularized it is essential to add a descriptive adjective to the term, hence Christian spiritual formation or my preference, Christian spirituality. A biblical and healthy Christian spirituality will by necessity be Trinitarian.
The best way to gain an appreciation and awareness for spiritual formation is through reading primary sources. Christian spirituality begins with a prayerful and careful study of the Bible and continues through the writings of the saints who have gone before us. Suggestions of whom to read will vary depending upon taste and background. However, it is important to read widely to gain a fuller perspective of the experiences, desires, challenges, and questions raised by Christians from across the landscape of church history. Accordingly, sample from the writings of Origen, Athanasius, the Desert Fathers and Mothers, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, John Cassian, Benedict of Nursia, Pseudo-Dionysius, Gregory the Great, Maximus the Confessor, Symeon the New Theologian, Anselm, Bernard of Clairvaux, Hildegard of Bingen, Bonaven-ture, St. Francis, Catherine of Siena, Julian of Norwich, John Hus, Thomas a Kempis, Catherine of Genoa, Martin Luther,
RAR 13:3 (Summer 2004) p. 168
John Calvin, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Johann Arndt, Frances de Sales, Richard Baxter, John Owen, Madame Guyon, Brother Lawrence, Jonathan Edwards, John and Charles Wesley, Alexander Whyte, etc.
To sort your way through the bewildering array of names and themes, I suggest you begin with a good introduction and history such as Bradley Holt. Also John R. Tyson, editor, Invitation to Christian Spirituality: An Ecumenical Anthology, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) provides brief biographical introductions and five-to-ten-page samples from the various writers. Paulist Press has embarked upon an ambitious project of publishing the Classics of Western Spirituality. While there are some rather unusual volumes in this series you will find some of the best introductions and critical texts in many of these writings.
Bloom, Anthony. Beginning to Pray. New York: Paulist Press, 1970. This spiritual classic written...
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